When we first used to make stir fry or Chinese sweet & sour stir fry in Malawi, we would use specific vegetables (cabbage, french beans, carrots etc.) and make the sauce at home. We would have it either with plain rice or fried rice. Then when we came here we saw the supermarkets with pre made sauces like hoi sin, teriyaki, black bean etc. As always we had to be cautious as these tended to contain some form of fish oil or sauce. The other thing with all the ready made sauces is that they have added preservatives to give them the long shelf life. So after trying a few brands which where vegetarian, we created our own version by using shop bought sauces and our own home made mix. However I do try and make the sauces at home to taste, this way I know what I am putting into it and each time the taste is different. The list of ingredients started to change also. After marriage I started adding tofu, mushrooms, and savoy cabbage to my stir fries. By making my own sauce at home I sometimes get the correct balance of vegetables and sauces and sometimes I get it wrong, however that is all part of the fun of cooking.
Vegetarian stir fry
I tend to use the most basic mix for the vegetables, however you can use what ever you prefer or have. I feel cabbage, carrots and bean sprouts are a must in Chinese cooking, so they will always appear in my stir fries unless I am trying out a new recipe. I use a grater for the carrot & ginger, which gives it the correct thickness for the stir fry, however if you use the shop bought mix you will not have to worry about this.
Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 15 mins Serves: 2
1 cup sliced capsicums (any mix of colours will do)
1 bunch of spring onions sliced
1 inch ginger grated
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 small white cabbage shredded
2 carrots grated
1/2 cup each cut diagonally baby sweet corn & sugar snap peas
2 cups bean sprouts
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp chinese five spice
sesame seeds to garnish
For the sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
6 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp vinegar
4 tbsp corn flour
1) Heat a wok on high for a few minutes, add the oil and the spring onions, ginger, garlic and capsicums. Saute for a few minutes and then add all the other vegetables apart from the bean sprouts.
2) While the vegetables are cooking make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl and keep aside until needed.
3) On high heat constantly stir the vegetables so that they do not stick to the wok. Once the vegetables start to whilt a little, add the spice mix and the sauce mixture, stir and then add the bean sprouts, mix and you are ready to serve with either noodles, plain or fried rice.